Tuesday, 1 March 2011

First Impressions: Ōkami

Recently, I've been wanting to get my hands on a huge adventure game for my Wii. Something on the scale of Zelda, but not one I've already played. Well, it turns out I've found that game. That game is Ōkami. Ōkami was originally a Playstation 2 title, but despite its excellent feedback it had next to no sales. The game implemented an innovative 'Celestial Brush' system, which involved the player drawing various symbols to solve puzzles and use different brush techniques. It was a good idea in theory, but drawing with the PS2's analogue stick didn't make it easy. So, when the Wii was released several years later the developers of Ōkami decided to give the game a second chance. With Nintendo's new Console's innovative control scheme, the Celestial Brush would be made much easier, and hopefully the game would be opened up to a wider audience. It was definitely a good idea to move the game to the Wii, because Ōkami really is better suited to a Nintendo console.

So, what's Ōkami all about? Well, it's a Zelda-like adventure in which you play as the female Wolf incarnation of the Japanese Sun God who goes by the complex name of Amaterasu. The story in its most basic form can be explained like this: Amaterasu (or Ammy for short) has teamed up with a glowing bug-like creature called Issun and is on a mission to save Nippon, the fictional country where the game's setting takes place. Ammy and Issun need to cure cursed zones around Nippon in order to bring peace back to the various villages, forests and fields you'll visit. Sound basic? Not even close. Ōkami's story is a brilliantly complicated tale featuring hundreds of zany characters and an epic back-story that sets the scene for Amaterasu's adventure. I've explained it in a very basic form for the obvious reason - This is just a First Impressions post. When the inevitable review comes along I'll explain Ōkami's story in more detail, but for now let's discuss the gameplay.

Like I previously mentioned, Ōkami is a lot like Nintendo's Legend of Zelda games. In the game, you do essentially visit dungeons and fight bosses, but the sections inbetween these dungeons are a lot more epic in scale. There's an absolute ton of side quests in Ōkami, each of which will earn you Praise Points. This is where Ōkami comes into its own, as an original title. You see, the Praise Points are essentially a basic form of Experience points. You use your obtained Praise to upgrade Amaterasu's stats so she can perform better while the story unfolds. Praise is earned by pretty much improving the game's locales, therefore leading in Ammy getting praised. If there's a cursed spot, you simply fill it in with flowers using the Celestial Brush earning you Praise Points. If there's some animals lurking about, you can feed them various foodstuffs such as meat and seeds in order to earn their Praise. It's a very clever way of earning experience, rather than just leveling up after battles. Speaking of the battles, Ōkami's battle system is a very intuitive one. You can implement your Celestial Brush techniques into your various encounters with demons to perform much better in fights, rather than just waggling the Wii Remote to simply bite your opponents. There's also many other aspects to be discussed about Ōkami's battle system, but I'll save them for the review.

Ōkami is one awesome game. I'm seven hours in and I've only finished the second dungeon, an impressive feat that no Zelda game has ever accomplished. It's probably because I've spent so much time trying to fill up my Bestiaries and taking part in the addictive side-quests to upgrade the chalk-white wolf. I have a feeling that Ōkami is going to take a very long time to beat, but when I do finish it expect a review. For now, all I can say is this: If Ōkami was a Zelda game, it would be one of the very best.

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